Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

When Nick Lowe sang this oldie in concert at the Powerstation recently (see review here), it's a fair bet many in the audience either didn't recognise it, or hadn't heard it in over four decades.

Lowe's treatment -- slow, less dramatic -- made the lyrics act as a neat counterpoint to his own bitter I Trained Her to Love Me. But in McDaniel's hands this song he co-wrote with Burt Bacharach is a very different thing.

McDaniels (who'd previously had a chart hit with 100lbs of Clay) offers a mixture of anger and vengance in the lyrics ("you'd be down on your knees, you'd be calling to meee") with that gulp of regret and self-loathing at his own weakness ("but a tower of strength is something ... [gulp] ... I'll never be").

This was about the last time anyone heard of McDaniels who quit the States after the assassination of Martin Luther King and went to Europe to live and be a songwriter. It worked, he wrote I Feel LIke Making Love (sung by Roberta Flack) which won a Grammy in the mid Seventies, but when he returned to the States he kept a very low profile and died in July 2011, aged 76.

However in the final decade of his quiet life he was much sampled and his powerful, political Compared to What of '69 threw a spotlight on another side of McDaniels. 

However Tower of Strength is a strange one with its drunken trombone and those great gulps.

Once heard .. [gulp] ... never forgotten? 

 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Brian Eno and David Byrne: The Jezebel Spirit (1981)

Brian Eno and David Byrne: The Jezebel Spirit (1981)

When the Brian Eno and David Byrne album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts appeared in 1981, the musical, social and cultural climate was very different. Hip-hop had yet to establish the widespread use... > Read more

Riot 111: 1981! (1981)

Riot 111: 1981! (1981)

New Zealand has no great popular history of topical, political songs -- and the few that there are tend toward the humorous (My Old Man's An All Black with its reference to no Maori being allowed... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Daby Toure and Skip McDonald: Call My Name (Proper)

Daby Toure and Skip McDonald: Call My Name (Proper)

Given that singer/guitarist/bassist Skip McDonald is somewhat of an Elsewhere favourite in his Little Axe guise and here get assistance from drummer Keith LeBlanc, McDonald's fellow traveller in... > Read more

Up where I belong? Luxury accommodation in Cairns (2007)

Up where I belong? Luxury accommodation in Cairns (2007)

To the best of my knowledge the words “upgrade” and “Mr Reid” have never appeared in the same sentence. Certainly I have stayed in some luxurious hotels -- Sorrento’s... > Read more